Radio 4’s Media Show led with the news that YouView’s launch has been delayed again, this time until ‘sometime in 2012’. You can catch up with the full interview via iPlayer here, but here’s a quick summary:
Before Richard took to the mic YouView’s problems were summed up by media consultant Matthew Horton:
- YouView has been too focused on managing up and getting the platform through BBC Trust approval. Managing down and getting the thing built has not moved quickly.
- Shareholder disagreements have also been a major problem – particularly issues around cost recovery for running the platform (already £6million per shareholder) and the user interface of EPG versus a more web like navigation experience.
- The latest delay will only see other connected platforms gain market share (in fact in today’s New Media Age Nigel Walley at Decipher said “YouView has missed the window to be the dominant force in the market”)
- With the delay it will be launching in to a more developed market, and it’s crucial it gets it right first time.
- They still don’t have a working box.
Then Richard Halton’s turn to respond:
- Trust approval for YouView was a year later than planned which had a knock on effect on to the delivery schedule. They now have a plan to launch early to mid 2012 and it includes plenty of contingency.
- They’re very happy with the user interface which is working but the backend coding is proving more complex. As YouView is a ‘complete solution’ including payment this is adding to the complexity.
- They’re reducing the scope of some elements of the project. Only last week all the shareholders agreed on a new reduced specification and timeline, which is why they held off announcing the delay.
- Asked on first mover advantage Richard said being first is not always best, citing GoogleTV’s failure, and saying how iPlayer got it right even though it launched after 4oD.
- He also argued the audience (predominantly Freeview customers) are not early adopters. (certainly most people outside the industry haven’t heard of connected TV, let alone YouView).
- Asked about the fact catch up services are already available across multiple devices including PS3, Wii, Virgin, etc, and if it makes YouView irrelevant he said it will be the first platform to bring all the major VOD services and EPG together as a seamless package and that he thinks it is just as strong a consumer proposition despite the delays.
- Will it launch by the time of the 2012 Olympics? “Absolutely”.
I know a lot of people are already writing off YouView but it’s my belief that it still has the potential to be the leading platform, or at worst second to Sky in terms of market penetration. The main reason for my optomism is that the broadcasters are the shareholders. Content is king in this case, and while they may deploy their catch up services on other platforms the opportunities to create new converged content services on their own proprietary platform *should* make YouView more compelling than rivals. Let’s not forget it is still live and time shifted viewing that accounts for over 95% of TV content viewing. With so much investment the broadcasters have to make it work – expect them to throw a lot more cash at it for launch, as well as huge chunk of airtime .